Technology

Redfin’s first acquisition: Walk Score

Redfin CEO: We get content, Walk Score gets access to real estate agents

In its first acquisition, Seattle-based tech brokerage Redfin has scooped up the neighborhood-information site Walk Score, with plans to import the startup’s rental listings and neighborhood data into its website and mobile tools.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Walk Score offers extensive neighborhood data, along with ratings on the walkability, bikeability and public transit access of individual addresses and communities.

In a press release, Redfin said Walk Score will continue “to function independently for the foreseeable future.” As part of the acquisition, Redfin also said that it will allow websites and mobile apps to serve up data from Walk Score’s APIs for free many more times a day than before.

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman said in a blog post that Walk Score “has become an online authority on neighborhoods,” and that the acquisition helps Redfin tackle a “key component” of the broker’s strategy: “to get local.”

That “means putting everything we know about a neighborhood, and everything we’ve done there, into our website and mobile tools, so we become a go-to destination for people exploring a move,” he said.

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Redfin will suck in Walk Score’s rental listings, pictures, commute times, pricing trends, safety stats and “lots more on school,” Kelman said. “This is all stuff that Redfin needs on its own site,” he said.

The acquisition underscores a push among real estate companies to integrate neighborhood data into online real estate search.

A number of lifestyle-based search tools have sprouted recently, and portals and listing sites are increasingly infusing demographic data, crime stats and school data into their user experience.

Walk Score is one of a small number of companies to generate crime heat maps, raising the possibility that Redfin might incorporate such maps into its listing search tool as Trulia has done.

Walk Score’s rental listing search tool offers a wide array of neighborhood-oriented filters, like commute time, and proximity to grocery stores, coffee shops and parks. Redfin could also potentially weave that functionality into its search tools.

Walk Score’s Neighborhood Map, a free widget that shows local amenities and establishments, appears on 30,000 partner sites, according to Walk Score.

Walk Score also offers three APIs that allow companies to customize the way Walk Score’s ratings, public transit and travel time data appear on or interact with their websites.

Redfin is now allowing sites and apps to make up to 5,000 data requests per day from those APIs before having to pay a fee. Before the acquisition, companies had to pay after only 100 data requests.

The deal will also give Walk Score access to real estate agents “and a way to convert some of its visitors into happy, paying customers,” Kelman said.

Redfin said Walk Score CEO Josh Herst will serve as a strategic adviser throughout the integration. Walk Score Chief Technology Officer Matt Lerner will join Redfin as vice president of local engineering. All other current Walk Score employees will join the Redfin team at Redfin’s Seattle headquarters.